OAK PARK February 13th.

Despite the heavy grey sky and patches of rain, Oak Park really put out the underwater welcome mat for me.

It was my first time at this popular shore dive site at Cronulla (Sydney). Divemaster George said the day’s first dive was the best for sea-creatures he’d done in 100 dives at Oak Park. “I’ve spoiled him!” he said to a couple of people afterwards, warning me it might not always be quite so good.

A pair of eagle rays were flying through the shallows as we snorkelled out. Almost as soon as we were down, one of Oak Park’s renowned friendly blue gropers materialised to escort us for much of the way along the reef wall, scrutinising us with swivelling eyeballs.

Among many highlights: a huge school of kingfish, a massive wobbegong resting between rocks, a giant Australian cuttlefish and an eastern blue devilfish lurking in a small cave. There were also lots of scorpionfish and rays and two fish (their names escape me) squabbling over territory.

The second dive presented a little less marine life, but was still very enjoyable. The big wobbegong was in a different spot, but the kingfish were gone. George found two giant Australian cuttlefish in separate crevices this time, and pointed out a swimming anemone just before a small maori wrasse began communing with my facemask.

Visibility was about 9m which, although I am told is considered pretty average, seemed a lot more than any of my open water course dives and I was delighted by how much I could see. Also the weather – there had been a big thunderstorm the night before and it threatened rain all day – meant we had the site almost to ourselves.

I was fortunate to be diving with someone so generous in sharing his knowledge of sealife, and willing to help a novice with various diving tips. Without George I couldn’t have identified more than a couple of species, let alone find cuttlefish and devilfish in their dark little corners. So thanks George!

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